Here at nichesiteazon, we’re big fans of Semrush.com. Barely a day guys past when I don’t login to the software to find keyword opportunities, track my site rankings, or reverse engineer a competitor. Additionally, Josh has outlined some great strategies you can use semrush for in previous posts. In this semrush review though, we’re going to focus on the basics, and why this software really does pay for itself. If you’re curious to read the other posts, they’re linked here:
First off, I’d like to just say that when I first looked into semrush, I wasn’t making a lot of money online and the monthly fee seemed unecessarily high. This may also be the case with you, and if you can’t afford the tool, then that’s understandable. You can actually use click the banner below to get a free trial of the tool, which should get your love affair with it started, and you can come back later when you have more of a budget.
For the meantime, let’s dive into this review.
How Does Semrush Work? What Is It?
Semrush calls itself a competitor research tool, and it is, but it actually has a lot more practical applications. You might be thinking “Ok cool, but how do I use competitor research to my advantage? And I’ll explain that in the rest of the article.
For now, here’s a quick overview of how you might use Semrush.
The page above is where everything begins. Enter a competitor’s URL above, and you’ll be presented with a list of keywords they rank for, what position they rank, who their competitors are (so you can rinse and repeat), and a lot of other information as well.
You can figure out what their best performing pages are, whether or not they’re buying traffic from Google, and you’ll also get some insights into their backlink profile.
Now, semrush definitely doesn’t have the best backlink checker in the world. Ahrefs and Majestic are superior here.
However, that doesn’t really matter, because what I use Semrush for has nothing to do with checking backlinks, as I’ll explain in the next few sections.
For now, just know that Semrush allows you to find out a lot of insanely useful keyword data about your competitors. You’ll uncover a lot of keywords that don’t show up in other keyword tools, and that alone is gold.
What a lot of people don’t realize is, Semrush also works great if you put your own site into the tool. You’ll find a bunch of hidden keywords you didn’t know you rank for. You’ll find untapped opportunities, and you’ll get good ideas about which posts to target for on-page and off-page seo improvements.
Thanks to this, the money you spend on Semrush could end up saving you money on link building, so ultimately, you come out ahead.
Practical Uses For Semrush
For the next part of this review, I’ll look at practical applications of semrush. In other words, how do I use it, and how can you use it to benefit your site?
There are 4 main ways that you'll benefit from this tool:
- Use it to find keywords you've not optimized for, that you can easily rank for.
- Use it to highlight which posts you should link build to first.
- Use it to reverse engineer your competitors and get new keyword ideas
- Use it to find "weak" keywords that forums are ranking for.
Let’s go through these one by one.
Using Semrush To Find ‘Quick Win’ Keywords To Target
This is one of the easiest ways to benefit from Semrush.
I’ll tell you this now. If you’ve never checked, there are no doubt dozens of keywords that your site ranks for, that you had no clue about.
On top of that, many of these keywords will be ones you’ve not optimized your site for.
I’ll give you an example:
Let’s say you are targeting a certain keyword with your post, like “best shower head”. Once that post ranks quite highly, you’ll naturally rank for other keywords as well, such as “best plastic shower head” or “good shower nozzle” and so on. It just happens.
Put any post into semrush and you’ll see it ranks for dozens of keywords.
What also happens is that some of those keywords you will rank quite highly. Position 12 or something like that.
For many of these keywords, you won’t even have that keyword anywhere on your page. This is because Google knows your article covers that topic. It knows that an article about shower heads is also going to be relevant to searches about shower nozzles, for example.
What I find is that 90% of the time, if you go back to that article and add the keyword in somewhere, within a week or so (depending on your site’s age and authority), you will jump up in ranking for that keyword.
You can rinse and repeat this so many times and increase rankings and traffic without adding more posts. The more rankings your site has, the more you can do this technique.
Here are three examples of keywords where I did the exact method talked about. I started tracking them in Serpfox the day I did the optimizations, so you can see the results almost instantly.
Now, it doesn’t always work. Some keywords won’t budge even if you add them to your post. It doesn’t take much work to do this though, and the fact that some keywords will have a major increase should make it very much worth your while to do.
You can rinse and repeat this technique every few weeks as well, because as you rank higher for these keywords, there will be other ones appearing.
This alone could pay for semrush in no time, assuming you have your traffic monetized.
Using Semrush To Choose Link Building Targets
Whether you’re doing white-hat link building, or something more grey-hat, you don’t have infinite time or money. You’ll want to make sure you’re able to get the most results out of your efforts, or money.
Semrush can help with this (although Ahrefs might be better if this is your only focus, as ahrefs has superior backlink crawlers).
How I use it is as follows:
1.) I put my site my site into Semrush and see what it shows me for keywords and rankings.
2.) I then look at “pages” and see which pages have a lot of rankings and keywords “nearly” on page 1. For example, you might think you want to do your link building to your main money page, but Semrush might show you that another post is actually much closer. It could already have 1 or 2 keywords on page 1 or at the top of page 2.
For me, this would go straight on the list of potential link building targets. I’d do further analysis into the competition before deciding 100% to target this post, but Semrush is responsible for putting it on my radar.
It’s all too easy for us to get blinkered vision and just focus on 1 or 2 posts, without realizing we could get some other posts earning money in the meantime, just by giving them a bit of link juice.
Using Semrush To Mimic Competitor Rankings
I use the word competitor lightly, because a lot of other sites in your niche might not really represent pure competition. What Semrush defines as your competition is a site you share other keywords with.
For example, perhaps your site ranks for 200 keywords, and another site ranks for 2,000, but 150 of them are the same ones you rank for. They’d show up as a competitor, right here:
Now, what we have above is a list of 302 organic competitors. Here’s how we use it:
1.) Starting with the competitors that share the most common keywords (in this case, nichehacks), we could click on them, and then get a list of all the keywords they rank for.
2.) By manually going through the list, we’re going to get dozens of ideas for keywords we hadn’t thought of targeting. Some of them will be “quick win” keywords that we can add into our existing articles to increase the keywords they rank for. Others will give us entire new article ideas.
Just because a competitor ranks for a keyword, doesn’t mean we are automatically going to rank for it too just because we wrote an article. However, it’s great for finding new content gaps and opportunities.
3.) For further wins, look for keywords where your competitor ranks for them, but the article they are ranking isn’t all that relevant. For example, maybe a competitor ranks highly for something like “roll on vs aerosol deodorant”, but the article ranking is not that related to the keyword. It could be something like, “best roll on deodorant”.
The fact they’re ranking highly for it without really targeting it or writing something useful, shows an opportunity. You can write an article that targets the keyword more accurately, and you’ll have a pretty good chance of ranking well for it.
Not every competitor will have keywords like this, but if you spend enough time, you’ll be able to find some.
4.) Additionally, you can look at the competitors for one of your specific posts and see if you’ve missed any keywords. Let’s say you have a post on page 1 of Google and it ranks for 20 different keywords. Maybe the other sites on rank 1 with you are ranking for 30 or 40 keywords with the same posts.
If you go through each one of those posts and see what they’re ranking for that you’ve missed, and then go back and add them to your post, you’ll not fail to increase your traffic to that post, and might even rank a bit higher as a result.
This is similar to the “quick win” opportunities mentioned above.
Use It To Find “Weak” Forum Keywords
It’s well documented that when you find a keyword where 1 or more forums are ranking, that keyword should be easy to rank for. The problem is, how do you find keywords where forums are ranking?
You find some forums, you enter their URL’s into Semrush, and you use a filter to find all the keywords they rank on page 1 for.
To make it even better, filter it to only show the ones they rank in the top 3 for.
I’ve used this to find dozens of keywords in almost every niche I’ve entered, and at least 30% of them I ranked for very quickly.
Josh is the man behind this strategy, which I’ve linked to right at the start of this article. If you want to know more about it, you can follow this link as well.
Semrush Pricing – Is It Worth It?
I’ve just shown you an almost infinite number of ways to use Semrush. Ok, only 4 ways, but they’ll keep you busy for what seems like an eternity.
The question is, does it pay for itself, and how much is that exactly?
The snapshot above shows the three pricing tiers available. To learn more about exactly what comes with the plans, go here. You can also get a 7 day free trial through that link.
Anyway, let’s talk numbers.
$99 per month is no small fee, and the average beginner niche site builder may not be able to afford it.
That’s fine, because if you are a complete beginner and don’t have the budget yet, you also don’t need to get semrush yet. It’s not something you can really benefit from until you either have a number of sites and regularly use this tool…or until one of your sites starts getting itself some rankings.
In my case, I signed up for a free trial once my site started making $100 per month, and I had scaled that to $500 per month within 3-4 short months. Semrush played a large part in that.
Essentially, you need to be earning some money and getting some rankings and traffic in order to really benefit from it (though you will still benefit in an earlier stage if you can afford it now).
Once you use it though, it pays for itself quite quickly.
If you’re able to increase the number of keywords you rank for, increase the positions they rank at, and get new content ideas all with one tool, you’ll definitely increase your revenue beyond $99 per month.
Only you can say if you have the budget for it. I will say that you don’t absolutely 100% need Semrush in order to succeed, but if you can afford it, you will absolutely benefit.
If I Could Only Use One Tool
I would probably struggle with only using one tool! However, if I did only have access to one…Semrush would definitely be a contender for that tool.
It depends, does WordPress count?
All joking aside, it’s for good reason that I use this tool almost every day, and if you can afford it, you’ll love it.
Remember, you can click the banner below to get a 7-day free trial.